The KRONA Knowledge and Cultural Centre enhances Kongsberg’s cultural institutions and stimulates interaction between diverse communities and disciplines. Comprised of a variety of functions, KRONA houses new teaching and technical laboratory facilities for Buskerud University College and Tinius Olsen Technical Vocational College, as well as a technical university library. The complex also includes a public library, cinemas, municipal offices and a theatre auditorium. Its functions are organised around a central void with shared functions, enhancing flexibility and reducing programme redundancy. Using subtle landscape elevations and strategically locating programme access points, visitors intuitively gravitate towards the Centre. Throughout the interior spaces, strong visual connections to public functions further enhance the liveliness of the complex.
Located in one of Kongsberg’s most recognised locations alongside the oldest university building in Norway, Mecanoo’s design is sensitive to its historic context. It is shaped by the site conditions and opportunities. In addition to prefabricated elements, and use of ground source energy, the facility uses locally-sourced materials. A facade of rough slats references local architecture and contrasts with the interior of wood, concrete and subtle silver accents that reflect daylight. Facing the park, the building has a balcony for outdoor performances as well as an amphitheatre formed in the Hasebergtjerndalen park landscape below. The public and university libraries, located in the heart of the complex, appear to be cut from the building volume and continue the public space of the church square. The stone floor of the surrounding courtyards is drawn into the interior, enhancing the material continuity of the public realm.
The KRONA Knowledge and Cultural Centre is highly flexible: in the evening the university canteen transforms into a café, the public library serves as a theatre foyer and the art gallery transforms into a bar for the film centre. The very concept of the building is adaptable in its components and form. Central to the shared programme is a number of large assembly rooms that accommodate a range of events including lectures, meetings, performances, receptions and concerts. The auditoria in the heart of the building are equipped for a variety of different configurations. These entertainment spaces are designed to be as open and flexible as possible, yet also create a vibrant, social atmosphere, and a connection to Kongsberg’s historical context.